As we all know; every major smartphone manufacturer releases a major new model at roughly the same time every year. We can pretty much guarantee that there will be a Samsung Galaxy S9 releasing at or around the time of next year’s Mobile World Congress trade show, with a Galaxy Note 9 following in the second half of the year. Similarly, Apple will almost certainly refresh its budget iPhone SE offering early in the year, and trot out its iPhone 8 and iPhone X replacements in or around September. HTC, LG, Sony, OnePlus and Xiaomi will also release new flagships in the first half of the year, depending on when Qualcomm can ship its upcoming Snapdragon 845 processor in sufficient volumes.
It’s a bit too early to know exactly what shape or form any of these phones will take, though we do have a few leaks that seem legitimate. Apple’s products have gone from being some of the most secretively developed in the world to the most widely leaked, and there are strong rumors of three new models in 2018, all designed like the iPhone X. Two are said to have OLED screens and glass bodies, while the third would be a lower cost model with an LCD screen and a metal body in multiple colors. It’s likely that all three will have Face ID since there won’t be room for a Touch ID sensor.
Samsung is said to be working on an enhanced iris recognition system for its upcoming Galaxy S9, to compete with Apple’s Face ID which is much more advanced than anything currently used by Android manufacturers. There could also be a slightly tweaked design, and dual rear cameras. Later in the year, Samsung could be ready with a fingerprint scanner integrated into the screen of its Galaxy Note 9. There’s also the promise of the enigmatic Galaxy X, purported to have a huge screen that’s bendable enough to allow the entire device to be folded, though you have to wonder if that will be a bridge too far for 2018.
As for the rest of the industry? We can expect Chinese companies to continue fighting it out, with new models releasing almost every day. The spec wars will continue, and users will benefit greatly from getting more value at each price point, but some companies might find the competition too tough. Nokia will continue its resurgence, but will have to compete on price. Sony has been stuck in the past, and we hope to see a complete design overhaul. Lenovo will continue to leverage the Moto brand.
We might not yet know exactly what each individual company will launch, but we have a pretty good idea of the technology that we’ll see from the industry as a whole, and trends that will emerge across the market. Here’s a quick rundown of what you should expect to see in your next smartphone.
1. The 18:9 aspect ratio will take over at every price level.
2. Foldable displays could enable new from factors.
3. Curved glass could look great if done right.
4. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 will dominate flagship phones.
5. 5G will begin rolling out in some parts of the world.
6. Digital payments will become mainstream.
7. Android Oreo should finally go mainstream.
8. Faster wireless standards will make life easier.
9. Face recognition will be the new “must-have” feature.
10. Fingerprint sensors could finally become integrated into glass.
11. eSIMs will make an appearance, but won’t be mainstream.
Let’s welcome 2018 on a high note and the technology unfolds like never before.